The U.S. government has not made a definite conclusion on the goal of the Saudi missile work, but, CNN reported, "the missile advancement could mark another step in potential Saudi efforts to one day deliver a nuclear warhead were it ever to obtain one".
The intelligence newly available shows that the oil-rich Islamic kingdom has expanded it missile infrastructure and technology through recent purchases from China.
While the relationship between the United States and China are already sour, the CNN came out with a news report citing anonymous sources claiming that the U.S. government has obtained intelligence that Saudi Arabia has significantly escalated its ballistic missile program with the help of China.
Background: The United States has shied away from sending ballistic missiles to Saudi Arabia over concerns about missile proliferation in the Middle East.
With Iran's ballistic missile capabilities expanding and the Saudis under threat of missile attack from Houthis in Yemen, it is unsurprising that Saudi Arabia would want to beef up its own capabilities. The Saudi embassy in the USA did not respond to CNN's request for comments.
Jeffery Lewis, a missile expert at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies in Monterey, California, said he would be a "little worried" that the U.S.is underestimating Saudi Arabia's ambitions.
Congressional lawmakers worry that the fact the government did not disclose this information in a series of briefings may signal the administration's "tacit approval" of the deal as it seeks to counter Iran.
'Without a doubt, if Iran developed a nuclear bomb, we will follow suit as soon as possible, ' Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman told 60 Minutes in a 2018 interview.
While Saudi Arabia has previously been known to have procured Chinese ballistic missiles directly, the CNN report suggests the country is working to localize production.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry said that China and Saudi Arabia are "comprehensive strategic partners", and that both countries "maintain friendly cooperation in all areas, including in the area of arms sales". Khashoggi, a critic of the crown prince, was murdered in the Saudi consulate in Turkey and his body allegedly cut up using a bone saw and disposed.
"Saudi Arabia treats us like the junior partner in this relationship, chopping up USA residents and torturing others, all the while demanding we remain silent and sell them more weapons", Murphy said.